Tag Archives: Gaming

A Quick Look at Minecraft Dungeons

Minecraft Dungeons
Minecraft Dungeons
Source: Flickr

What the world really needed more of is Minecraft. After all, with 126 million people playing it, there was certainly room for some expansion. That’s what Microsoft must have thought anyway, so hence we now have Minecraft Dungeons. You’ve probably already heard about it, and may have already dismissed it as a cheap cash grab. But is it? Are you better off simply giving it a miss and sticking to the guaranteed good fun a mobile casino has to offer instead? Let’s take a look.

First and foremost, the biggest and most obvious question first; did this need to be a Minecraft game? The enormous, glaring answer to that question is no, it certainly didn’t. Minecraft Dungeons is essentially an unabashed Diablo clone, using only the aesthetic of Minecraft and nothing else. This in itself is pretty nutty, given that there are literally dozens of Diablo clones already on the market, making it a rather cluttered playground to be taking a stab at. The only real draw card is the cross-platform multiplayer capabilities, which are pretty neat. Other than that, it is more or less exactly what you would expect it to be.

Presentation And Gameplay

Most assumed that, given the enormous resources and wealth Microsoft are in possession of, that they would at least transform a Diablo clone into something truly extraordinary in terms of gameplay, or at least in terms of presentation. Sadly, they didn’t really do either.

In terms of gameplay, Minecraft Dungeons functions in the most by the numbers fashion possible. Left click slashes, right click shoots an arrow. Enemies attack in their droves, you cut them down. Rinse and repeat. There is loot, of course, and there is levelling up. The loot has higher numbers than the loot that came before it, and the levels are higher numbers than the ones below. No, there is no crafting, and no, there is no building.

In terms of presentation, yes, the iconic Minecraft visuals have been utilised and are transplanted over with extreme accuracy. But, are they appealing? Perhaps only in a sort of retro way. Minecraft was never really about the visuals, so it makes little sense to try and use these visuals in a game that would essentially benefit from better graphics. It is a bit of a head scratcher that no effort was made to even try and step the aesthetics up, in any regard. Basically you can imagine what Diablo would look like if all the textures and geometry were stripped away, and you have a good idea.

Playing Minecraft
Source: Pixabay

Multiplayer And Conclusion

The one aspect of the game that is pretty neat is the cross platform multiplayer. The style of gameplay begs to be enjoyed by groups of friends, and in a world that is divided up into specific platforms, that sure can be a pain. Minecraft Dungeons is one of few titles that allows Xbox, PlayStation and PC gamers to all get together under one umbrella, and that really is refreshing in an increasingly exclusive centric market. So in that regard the game gets a big old thumbs up.

But this bit of pleasantness can’t save Minecraft Dungeons from being a rather bland and by the numbers experience. There is fun to be had, but not any sort of fun than can’t be found elsewhere, and, frankly, in better Diablo clones. It can be argued that the game is intended as being a family friendly version of Diablo, and that is a fair enough angle to take. But it sure would have been nice if something, anything, had been done to make this a game that stood apart.

In conclusion; Microsoft have continued their trend of putting out rather mediocre titles that do little to stand apart. Gears 5 was equally as middle of the road, doing nothing new or innovative. If anything, this latest release by the software giant is proof that something really needs to be shook up in their games department, in a big way. Sony have consistently trounced Microsoft in the console war, and it really doesn’t seem like they have even any idea of how to fight back. But that really is just speculation, with the new generation still on the horizon.

What The New PS5 Controller Has To Offer

PS5 coming soon
PS5 coming soon
Source: vox.com

Strap yourself in, brace, and prepare to have your brain exploded out the back of your head. It’s the new controller for the PS5, and it is everything you thought it would be. Plus, several unexpected features that will probably be entirely ignored by developers.

The new controller is called the DualSense, and based on initial impressions, it seems designers clearly had instructions to ‘create something that looks futuristic.’ Those designers delivered in that department, at least in terms of aesthetics. In terms of basic functionality, everyone using the new controller, be it to play GTA 6 or pokies, will certainly feel right at home. Which is to say, things are extremely familiar.

So, in a nutshell, you’ll still feel like you’re using a PS controller, only it’ll feel like you’re playing games in the future! In the future with a controller design from the past.

First Impressions

The controller is sleek, flashy, and a few comparisons to the animated character Wall-E have been thrown around. Though, and this will no doubt come as a shock, the design still has all the same buttons in the same place.

Although those previously-mentioned designers followed the instructions to adopt an overall futuristic visual overhaul, they clearly didn’t have permission to add buttons, or move any that already existed. This almost suggests that the design of game controllers has been perfected long ago, and there really isn’t any need to make adjustments.

But lest we get carried away, there are a few added extras to be discussed.

New Features

Some of the new features for the controllers sound interesting, while others are likely going to be overlooked by developers after the first wave of games.

New PlayStation controller
Source: Pixabay

The first feature is advanced Haptic Feedback. The PS4 controller used Rumble Technology, which generally just vibrated during key moments of the game. Truth be told, it wasn’t exactly mind blowing. But hush your mouth, Haptic Feedback is here, and games will never be the same. Haptic Feedback is a more fine-tuned vibration system, similar to that used in mobile devices. According to SIE CEO Jim Ryan, it completely changes how you experience games. Imagine a wider variety of vibrations in your hands than ever before. The future is here.

Another new feature is Adaptive Triggers. This may be interesting, depending on how the technology works, but might also be nothing more than a mild novelty that quickly becomes redundant. The idea is that the triggers, L2 and R2, can be adjusted to offer more or less resistance, depending on how developers choose to implement the feature. Honestly, we’re willing to bet that this a feature that will be ignored. After all, how many gameplay instances can you think of where a tighter trigger would have blown your mind? Not many, right?

Other, more straightforward features include an audio jack and mic built into the controller, as well as a ‘create’ button that replaces the ‘share’ button.

The Divisive

With the new controller design being revealed to the world, fans have already had a chance to scrutinise, analyse, and go moggy. As would be expected, some of the design choices have got fans up in arms. But this being 2020, the hordes of naysayers were expected.

However, one point of criticism being widely discussed is worth mentioning.

It has been a PlayStation tradition that controller buttons were colored, which helps match them to on-screen prompts. For example a screen prompt would show a red circle button that needed to be pressed, and that same button could quickly be found on the controller, given the matching colour scheme. It is a small, but smartly thought out design choice, and certainly one that went a long way to helping newcomers get familiar with controls. Removing the colour scheme seems like nothing more than overlooking this previous decision, especially since there is zero tangible benefit to removing the colors. Though, it has also been mentioned that there will be 30 different collector’s edition controller colour schemes available. Some of these include the previous colored button controller design. But everyone not getting a collector’s edition will just have to settle for the standard colorless design, which does seem like a bit of a slap in the face.

From Pokies to AR: Gaming Galore

Console gaming is bigger than ever
Console gaming is bigger than ever
Source: Pixabay

2020 is poised to be a huge year for gaming. Now more than ever, gaming is readily accessible and there is a game to suit everyone’s taste – from open-world adventure to interactive strategy, the battlefields of WW2 and beyond. Fans of online casino games can even look forward to VR pokies. But how has the industry come so far, and what exciting new developments are there to look forward to in the coming era of gaming? Let’s look at some of the trends.

2020: Cross Platforming and Consoles

Consoles have a devoted following among gamers who play anything from the FIFA football series to online casino games, so the release of a new console is always a big event. 2020 marks 20 years since the iconic PS2 was released and the scene has come so far since then, as big tech companies constantly strive to provide gamers with bigger and better hardware. Both Microsoft and Sony have announced their next-gen consoles, namely the Xbox X and PS5 respectively. Gamers can look forward to exciting new graphics (like 4K 60 FPS) and performance improvements across the board, no matter what style of gaming you enjoy. Don’t have the $500 to spend on the new console? Don’t fret! Gaming tech manufacturers have greatly improved cross-platform gameplay, meaning users with older consoles can play with new gen users, as well as the fact that in a single online lobby, there can be a multitude of players using anything from a PC to a mobile device to the old Xbox One to the new PS5.

From Pokies to PUBG: The Rise of Mobile Gaming

It is simply astounding to reflect upon how far games have come since the days of playing Tetris on a “brick” phone. Gone are the days of pixelated, low quality games that were designed as superficial boredom busters. Today, some of the most technologically demanding and competitive games can be found on mobile devices. Examples of this are mobile adaptations of the giants PUBG and Fortnite. Both of these games were previously only able to run on gaming specific PC’s and consoles. However companies like Tencent partnered with the developers to bring these games to mobile platforms. In fact, there are so many games to choose from on app stores, it almost seems as though phones were never designed for anything but gaming! This is obviously of huge benefit, as now everyone with a mobile phone can play anything from pokies to PUBG on the go, without spending exorbitant amounts on new consoles and devices.

Augmented reality is going to be big
Source: Pixabay

Increased Variety and New Genres Emerging

Ever heard of Augmented Reality (AR) gaming? This brand-new style of gaming transforms a player’s cell phone into a virtual projector to the real world. To make a simple analogy, just like Google Maps shows people nearby restaurants and venues in real time, these games provide players with real-world objectives and tasks to complete.  Thanks to technology, petrolheads are even getting their game on. For a few thousand dollars, players can invest in a fully functional, immersive simulation racing rig. These set-ups consist of a wrap-around screen, a physical steering wheel, gear shifter and seat, all with full force feedback and vibration. F1 drivers use these rigs to train, and they are the closest thing to a real driving experience one can get. These are just a mere two out of the thousands of new categories of games that are emerging every day.

A Boom in Gaming as Entertainment

t is a well-known fact that in these modern times, players do not have to physically be playing a game to be enjoying it. There are YouTube creators and Twitch streamers that have risen to the heights of superstardom thanks to their gaming content. The gaming channel PewDiePie, for example, has an astounding 100 million followers. In addition to the above mentioned, there is currently a huge spike in the Esports craze. Media analysts at Activate predict that by 2021, at least 84 million people will be active viewers of Esports. That is more than US Major League Baseball and Basketball. Competitive gaming is already looking to be a lucrative prospect for investors, and is only set to further expand. Even the online casino industry is getting in on the act, with live casino games that enable people to participate or spectate. With the rapidly evolving and developing gaming scene, who knows where the future is set to take us?

Most Watched eSports In The World in 2019

Joueur eSports en action
eSports player in action
Source: Pxhere

If you haven’t been paying attention, eSports are quickly becoming one of the most popular sporting events in the world. Billions are pouring in, dedicated eSports arenas are opening up left, right and centre, you can place bets on events much like you would on games at a casino, and millions of spectators are tuning in for the biggest matches. Some are even predicting that eSports will surpass some of the bigger traditional sports in a few years.

But which are the eSports that are getting the most attention, and drawing in the most viewers? In that regard, it is common practice for analysts to compare eSports viewership to that of the Super Bowl. But that is a grossly unfair comparison, given the scale of the Super Bowl. It is rather more accurate to specifically look at an event and put it into the proper context.

eSports Charts recently took a closer look at some of the major eSports events of 2019 in order to properly understand how the industry is progressing. Keep in mind however the following statistics have excluded Chinese platforms, so they are only a part of the big picture.

Hours Watched

One of the most interesting statistics is considering the sheer number of hours watched. Though, this in itself is a tricky statistic to put in the right context. The winner by far was the League of Legends Championship, an event that absolutely dominated 2019. But the key here is that the event ran for nearly a month and a half, and took place in three different countries. The lengthily matches unfolded in Paris, Madrid and Berlin, with each game going on for considerably longer than some other eSports. All in all, however, the League of Legends Championship had roughly 137 million hours watched.

The next most watched even was the Dota 2 International, with a considerably less 88 million hours. But, again worth noting is that Dota 2 has lengthily matches that tend to draw on for far longer than other popular games.

eSports arena
Source: Flickr

Average Viewership

Changing the angle from the most watched hours to average viewership quickly demonstrates how important it is to take separate factors into account. League of Legends and Dota 2 fall back in the listings, though still didn’t do badly with average viewership of 1 million and 726,000 respectively.

But now a newer, but far more globally embraced event quickly takes centre stage. Yes, it’s Fortnite. The Fortnite World Cup managed to maintain an impressive average viewership of 1.1 million, which although not miles ahead of League of Legends certainly does enough to be crowned the king by far. Important to note though is that the average Fortnite match is also far shorter than the average League of Legends match.

Peak Viewers

The playing field is again separated drastically by taking into account peak viewership. League of Legends once again surges ahead of the competition, managing to peak at an impressive 3.9 million viewers. This peak is likely due to a host of interested parties tuning in to witness the crowning moment of the final matches.

Next up is, of course, the Fortnite World Cup Finals, which managed a peak of 2.3 million. Far behind League of Legends, but certainly nothing to be taken lightly. Though predictions already suggest that Fortnite will quickly be getting ahead of the competition, with player numbers, and global interest in the game, on the rise daily.

Drawing Conclusions

It is clear that getting a proper understanding of which eSports are really drawing in the numbers depends vastly on which angle you choose to understand it. But, with that being said, the numbers clearly indicate that League of Legends is still the game of choice for most fans. Dota 2, which was once the biggest game by far, is dwindling in popularity, and it probably won’t be long before it is fading into the past.

As is clear from the above, Fortnite has exploded onto the scene, and is quickly becoming the major draw card of the industry. There is almost no question that it will make a bigger showing in 2020, especially given that new tournaments are already being added to the roster. Either way, eSports as a whole is quickly picking up momentum, and although it isn’t necessarily fair to put it in the same category as the Super Bowl just yet, it might not be long before a direct comparison can be made.

What Is Google Stadia?

Google Stadia

Google Stadia
Source: Wccftech

“The future of gaming is not a box,” according to Google. “It’s a place.” Google announced it is joining the gaming industry in 2019 with Stadia, a cloud streaming service allowing games to be played anywhere. The system was first introduced at the Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco on March 19. With Stadia, Google looks to change the way people play.

The Netflix Of Gaming

Google is trying to do to the gaming industry what Netflix has done to the film and series industry. Unlike traditional gaming, you won’t need a fast gaming PC or a particular console such as Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Xbox One, or Sony PlayStation 4. The only thing Stadia needs is access to the Google Chrome web browser. After connecting with your phone, PC, tablet, or smart TV, you can immediately start playing. The service will start sometime this year in the US, Canada, UK, and Europe.

What makes Stadia different from other streaming games is its integration with YouTube. As a result of this collaboration, Google will be able to connect to the gaming community through popular gamers and commentators. When a player watches a clip posted by one of these, they can immediately begin playing the game, even starting where the clip occurs.

While services like Twitch have already seen communities develop around games and streamers, they do not integrate with the games themselves. The player can watch and chat but then has to switch to another system to play.

Road Blocks Stadia Must Break Through

While Google has an interesting approach to the new generation of gaming, the company will also face many challenges. The first one is the content. At the conference, Google announced many partnerships with game studios, however, there was no mention of any game that will be built for Stadia. They only showed a couple of games that are already available on other consoles. Google shared their development kit with over 100 game studios, but will they accept the extra work of adapting their work for another platform? One way Google can try to get content is by developing it themselves at the Stadia Games and Entertainment studio.

Another hurdle is the internet connection required to use the service. If you don’t have a fibre internet connection, your gaming experience will be sub-par. And even if you have a high-speed connection, latency can still be an issue. Other streaming services have less of a problem with latency because they focus only on video and can buffer it. This workaround is impossible when you are playing a game. Unless you are located near a Google data centre, you will experience a delay between when you push a button and when the result appears on your screen. Google avoided showing latency-dependant games during its demonstration. Rather than showing a first-person shooter like Counterstrike that requires quick response time, the slower-actioned Assassin’s Creed Odyssey was chosen as the test title.

And since you always need an internet connection to access the cloud, there is no offline play. This means no playing your favourite game while flying for example. Or even on your mobile phone – at least until 5G has arrived. And this won’t be any time soon.

Still Many Unknowns

There has yet to be any indication of exactly when customers can get their hands on Google Stadia. The price? No clue. Will it be a monthly subscription like Netflix or Amazon Prime? Perhaps time-based with an amount per hour of play, no matter which game or games you choose? This also leads to the question of if you will be able to own any of the games you play in the cloud.

Another important point is how the game developers will receive their share of the profits. The current system of direct selling to gamers is extremely profitable. Will they be willing to try a different business model?

We hope that Google will announce more details soon, but even so the competition is already fierce. It’s already possible to play streaming games on the PlayStation Network (PSN) or even on the Nintendo Switch (albeit only in Japan for the moment). And while Google has deep-pockets, Microsoft’s experience has shown that money is not enough to gain control of the gaming market.

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